Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Wallowing in Homemade Crème Fraîche, Again!

It's finally crème fraîche season. You didn't know it has a season? Well, it sorta does. I make it and eat it all year round, because there isn't much you can't use it in. (If you've not tried it, think of it as a mild, almost nutty-tart sour cream-like, addicting product that won't separate when you add it to and food, hot or cold) and it whips! To buy it, it's quite expensive, but to make crème fraîche  is cheapo cheap. And for me, it has a season because I can eat so much of it that I gain weight . So I rather tend to use it more during the layered clothes-big sweater seasons of fall and winter if you get my drift. Nothing, but nothing, is more delicious.

When you buy it, you can end up paying as much as nearly $5 for a cup or so, but with this recipe, which I've put out there more than once, you can probably make a half gallon for about the same amount, especially if you use a bit from your current batch to make the next.

Crème fraîche is one of those essential things. If there isn’t any in my fridge it requires an immediate trip to the market. Not to actually buy crème fraîche, just to get the ingredients to make it at home. I have bought the culture to make the real thing, and it does make a product closer to what I’ve eaten in France, but buttermilk, and pasteurized heavy cream are enough to make an endless supply, so I can wallow in the luxury of having as much as I want. When it's nearly all gone I can use the last bit in my jar to make more by transferring it to a small bowl, washing the jar thoroughly, mixing the remaining crème fraîche with two cups of cream and start the fermenting process again.  Fabulous

Time to start another batch of Crème Fraîche!

Homemade Crème Fraîche

1 pint of heavy cream pasteurized (NOT ultra pasteurized)
¼ cup of cultured buttermilk

Tools: spoon, measuring cup, and a very clean quart or liter glass jar with a cover

How: pour the ¼ cup of cultured buttermilk into the bottom of the jar, pour in the cream, stir gently and thoroughly, and either partially cover the jar, or leave off the lid and cover the top loosely with a clean cloth or a paper towel. Set it aside at room temperature for 8 to 36 hours (depending on how warm your kitchen is, and how thick you want the finished product). Stir gently once or twice a day if you think of it, and while you are stirring you can judge how thick it’s getting. Try not to lick the spoon, although I am totally unsuccessful at it. Just don't double-dip.

When it’s nearly as thick as you’d like (somewhere between the thickness of yogurt and commercial mayonnaise), seal the jar with the lid and pop it in the refrigerator. It’ll keep about two weeks, and if you notice that you’re down to your last half to quarter cup of the stuff, you can use your already made crème fraîche as the starter for your next batch. So you can fearlessly use up all that excess buttermilk in pancakes, pies and cakes, and keep that crème fraîche jar going just about forever. It’s bottomless. Really. 

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